Reason and Faith

Ever since I started reading CS Lewis, I’ve been interested in reading some of the figures who influenced him. One of these was English journalist (among other things) GK Chesterton (1874-1936).

Another favorite author of mine, Ravi Zacharias, often quotes Chesterton (right) so with this in mind, I sought to obtain a copy of what appears to be Chesterton’s seminal work , Orthodoxy.

The book was been quite enjoyable to this point (don’t expect this to change) and I can see a lot of Lewis in the writing (I know it’s the other way around).

In chapter 3 (“The Suicide of Though”) Chesterton points out the following,

Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.

If you are merely a sceptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, “Why should anything go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?”

Sounds reasonable doesn’t it?

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Devolution

It was legendary writer GK Chesterton who observed that the doctrine of original sin is “the only part of Christian theology which can be really proved.”

A casual glance at newspapers, news sites etc. will bear out the fact that human beings, despite technological advances and other such things, continue to demonstrate their ability to cause each other great harm.

In his book, The Battle for the Beginning, John MacArthur refers to the human condition as a devolution. I’ve heard it said that humanity is the way it is because we haven’t gotten there yet, we aren’t sufficiently evolved.

Some even say the animals are farther along because they don’t hurt each other to the degree we hurt ourselves (the fact that a higher creature has a greater capacity for good and evil is strangely ignored)

Johnny Mac says this in his book,

Deliverance from this state [the human condition, a fallen state] will not come from any process of evolution, either. In fact, the whole creation-including the human race-is now subject to a kind of devolution, which no amount of education, enlightenment, environmentalism, psychology, civilization, or technology will ever be able to reverse. What is needed is redemption.

What is curious to me is how the folks who most aggressively reject the Christian explanation for the human condition and thus God’s cure for it (redemption through His Son Jesus Christ), are the folks who have a different sort of faith though they ridicule so-called people of faith.

One could even say their faith is a blind faith, one that naively holds that social programs will somehow change human nature or a continuous reiteration of the so-called “golden rule” will somehow keep us from what comes naturally.

As CS Lewis commented,

What is the good of drawing up, on paper, rules for social behaviour, if we know that, in fact, our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them?

Christianity Brings out the Worst in People

“Christianity must be a most extraordinary thing. For not only (as I understood) had Christianity the most flaming vices, but it had apparently a mystical talent for combining vices which seemed inconsistent with each other. It was attacked on all sides and for all contradictory reasons. — GK Chesterton in Orthodoxy

I was recently privy to an elucidation of what Chesterton alludes to. A complaint was made that a certain charitable Christian woman was “too nice” to her fellow congregants. So much so, that the congregants, filthy quislings that they are, were portrayed as folks who took advantage of the woman’s charity.

Oh the outrage that this venerable woman would, at the drop of a hat, stop what she was doing and rush to the aid of her brothers and sisters of Christ. As a recipient of such actions, though not coming from this woman, I most appreciate this example of faithworks.

Ironically enough, the plaintiff above also showed displeasure when people did not lend her a helping hand in an hour of need.

The episode brought Lucian’s The Death of Peregrinus (to mind. I have not read this work but learned about it as it was referenced to in Fanning the Flames: Probing the issues in the Acts within a chapter having to do with the way the first Christians were perceived by their Greek and Roman critics.

Lucian’s mid-second century unflattering description of Christians is in part, as follows,

The activity of these people, in dealing with any matter that affects their community, is something extraordinary; they spare no trouble, no expense.

Peregrine, all this time, was making quite an income on the strength of his bondage; money came pouring in. You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.

All this they take quite on trust, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property. Now an adroit, unscrupulous fellow, who has seen the world, has only to get among these simple souls, and his fortune is pretty soon made; he plays with them.

What certain unbelievers see as “stupid” and “misguided” is actually service to the Lord. To the Lord because by serving His body, the Church, one serves Him.

That this requires denial of self (not as its own end of course) is paramount not to mention counter-intuitive to the deep-rooted selfishness natural to us after Adam’s sin.

That this is not, can not, be understood by those who willfully remain outside merely gives testimony to the truth in the Apostle’s words,

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

May we go forth and tell those still in darkness about this “crucified sage” and show the love He teaches us.